Light Reading

Sprint Promises 180Mbit/s 'Peaks' in 2015

Dan Jones
6/18/2014
50%
50%

CHICAGO -- Light Reading's Big Telecom Event 2014 -- Sprint sparked up the morning keynote of Light Reading's largest-ever event with a tale of how it will up its LTE speeds in US cities through 2015.

Jay Bluhm, vice president of network development and engineering for Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), kicked off Day 2 of BTE with a rundown of the carrier's ongoing 3G and 4G updates with Network Vision and Spark. Bonding radio channels with carrier aggregation through LTE Advanced is at the basis of the Spark update, but Sprint takes it further with software upgrades, multiple antennas (MIMO), and updated radio technology at the cellsite, alongside tri-band MIMO rollouts on the device side.

"By 2015 you're going see these peak speeds of 180 Mbit/s, where you're getting peak speeds of 60 Mbit/s today," Bluhm told the audience. (See Sprint's Spark: It's Fast but No Multi-Tasker.)

Bluhm Sparks Up BTE
Sprint's Jay Bluhm talks LTE in Chicago.
Sprint's Jay Bluhm talks LTE in Chicago.

At the very heart of the Spark upgrade is 1,900 MHz, 800 MHz, and 2.5 GHz tri-band LTE support: 1,900 MHz is the workhorse frequency that gives Sprint widespread outdoor coverage; 800 MHz provides better indoor coverage and improved range; while the 2.5 GHz channel is the racehorse, providing peak speeds in urban areas. (See Igniting the Future: Sprint Spark.)

Triple Threat
Sprint's Workhorse, Pony Express, and Racehorse frequencies for LTE depth.
Sprint's Workhorse, Pony Express, and Racehorse frequencies for LTE depth.

8T8R? Come again?
Multiple antenna arrays combined with eight-transmit/eight-receive (8T8R) radios at the cellsite will boost the range and speed of the LTE TDD 2.5 GHz element of Sprint's Spark offering. Sprint has said previously that it will start deploying that technology around the middle of this year. (See Defining 4G: What the Heck Is LTE TDD?)

8T8R is a term that we are all likely to see more of soon. Current cellular design typically uses two transmit and receive paths -- 8T8R has eight. 8T8R enables wide-range "beamforming," which means that the operator can direct a beam to a specific user's device, improving the speed, range, and signal-to-noise characteristics of the transmission. (See Sprint: LTE TDD Speed Boost Coming Soon.)

Long-time readers will remember that these concepts were originally tried out with WiFi, way back in 2002. They were also floated as a WiMax booster, but LTE overtook that specification as the preferred 4G technology. (See Vivato Switches Sides.)

8T8R has become possible for cellular because the technology has shrunk enough that a multi-element antenna array and a remote radio head (RRH) can be installed to support 8T8R at a cellsite. For instance, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) writes that its "RRH on band 41 [2.5 GHz] supports up to 160 W total (8 times 20 W) and up to 120 MHz of aggregated carrier bandwidth to fit with Sprint large TDD bandwidth and capacity needs." (See What the [Bleep] Is Fronthaul? for more on what RRHs are.)

Beamforming and vastly increased transmit and receive paths will likely eventually become part of the 5G specification, too. (See DoCoMo Unveils 5G Trial Plans.)

Don't forget that MIMO and multiple frequencies will also require bigger antenna arrays and tri-band support at the device for best performance. Bluhm notes that Sprint already has a raft of tri-band devices available as it deploys Spark upgrades in major US cities. (See Fanning Sprint's Spark in NYC.)

The Big Picture
The board tech elements that will allow Sprint's speed bump.
The board tech elements that will allow Sprint's speed bump.

Sprint has access to up to 120 MHz of 2.5 GHz TDD spectrum in 100 major markets, Bluhm says. This means that it is planning to hit three-channel radio carrier aggregation on that frequency in 2015.

Now We're Bonding
Three-channel carrier aggregation delights the radio wonks in the crowd in Chicago.
Three-channel carrier aggregation delights the radio wonks in the crowd in Chicago.

Carrier aggregation in the LTE Advanced specification (3GGP Release 10 and beyond) is at the root of Sprint's Spark advance, Bluhm says, but the operator will take it further with software updates and device support. "The infrastructure we're deploying is capable of supporting three carriers, which will get you 180 Mbit/s peaks."

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
pcharles09
50%
50%
pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
6/24/2014 | 9:38:32 PM
Re: They need this sooner rather than later...
I agree. I've stood in the same spot (maybe moved about a step or 2) & watched my coverage flip-flop between 3G & LTE. One 'works', the other doesn't. It's extremely annoying.
DanJones
50%
50%
DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
6/20/2014 | 7:27:52 PM
Re: They need this sooner rather than later...
Its going to take a while whatever, you don't do this big of an upgrade in a few months.
KBode
50%
50%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/20/2014 | 9:02:13 AM
Re: They need this sooner rather than later...
I spend so much time traveling around the country I just can't rely on Sprint or T-Mobile's network just yet since coverage in many places remains abysmal. I'm stuck on Verizon for now (begrudgingly given their closed and locked device policies). Happy to jump to Sprint if they can get the network up to snuff. 180 Mbps isn't as important to me as overall coverage and signal reliability.
pcharles09
50%
50%
pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
6/19/2014 | 10:00:59 PM
Re: They need this sooner rather than later...
So much for the NOW network. I feel like it's the waiting network. I had better speeds when I'm roaming on Verizon's network.
KBode
50%
50%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/19/2014 | 10:54:44 AM
They need this sooner rather than later...
They need this sooner rather than later. The LTE network they have continues to lag in all big four LTE speed and latency tests. With Sprint, it feels like the kind of network everyone wants always feels indefinitely around a bend....
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Network architects aiming to upgrade their networks to support agile, open, virtualized services in the 21st century need to consider new criteria when choosing between technology suppliers.
Live Streaming Video
BTE 2015 Sponsor Keynote: HP
Dr. Prodip Sen, CTO, Network Functions Virtualization, HP
LRTV Custom TV
Red Hat Demo

7|2|15   |   10:53   |   (0) comments


Red Hat's Nicolas Lemieux demonstrates how Red Hat is driving innovation through open source communities.
LRTV Custom TV
Red Hat's Approach to OpenStack Adoption

7|2|15   |   5:17   |   (0) comments


Red Hat's Radhesh Balakrishnan outlines his company's open source strategy for both enterprises and telcos.
LRTV Custom TV
The New IP Goes Mobile With vEPC

7|2|15   |   1:12   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading's Gabriel Brown discusses results of a Light Reading survey sponsored by Brocade that shows a clear commitment by mobile operators to move quickly to virtual EPC deployment.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Business Sense of SDN

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Results of a Brocade-sponsored survey show that CSPs have a clear sense of SDN use cases but are wrestling with the business case. Sterling Perrin of Heavy Reading looks behind the numbers.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Will Be Here Sooner Than You Think

7|2|15   |   2:22   |   (0) comments


Forget the usual ten-year cycle for new technologies – NFV will be a core part of CSP networks in five years, based on results of a Brocade-sponsored survey, says Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell.
LRTV Custom TV
The New IP Gains Traction With CSPs

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Roz Roseboro of Heavy Reading analyzes results of a Light Reading survey sponsored by Brocade showing that CSPs are getting serious about making the transition to the New IP era.
LRTV Custom TV
It's (Real) Time for Analytics

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading's Jim Hodges looks at how CSPs say they plan to use analytics to deploy new services in real time as part of The New IP, based on results of a survey sponsored by Brocade.
LRTV Documentaries
IoT in Action

6|30|15   |   1:39   |   (7) comments


Two co-workers discuss the benefits of IoT technology.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson Opens Up on OPNFV

6|30|15   |   14:16   |   (1) comment


Martin Bäckström, VP and head of industry area Datacom at Ericsson, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the emergence of OPNFV, the importance of standards and Ericsson's OPNFV plans.
LRTV Custom TV
NetNumber Founder Discusses NFV/SDN Impact on SP Networks

6|26|15   |   4:15   |   (0) comments


NetNumber Founder Doug Ranalli examines why SPs need a new network infrastructure for service agility. While NFV and SDN are the tools, the old ways of thinking about signaling control are inhibitors. Doug provides his recommendations.
LRTV Custom TV
Orchestrating NFV vCPE Services Across Multivendor Networks

6|26|15   |   5:46   |   (0) comments


Nirav Modi provides an overview of vCPE, the fastest-growing NFV use case, showing how Cyan's Blue Planet orchestrates vCPE services across a multivendor infrastructure to rapidly deliver new managed services for business customers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE at LTE Summit Amsterdam 2015

6|26|15   |     |   (0) comments


As one of the leading global telecommunications providers, ZTE presented its cutting-edge technology at LTE World Summit 2015 in Amsterdam. On display at ZTE's booth were the latest R&D achievements in wireless, 5G development, HetNet, deep convergence of FDD and TDD, and RCS/IMD/iSDN/vCN.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Who's Feeding Fiber to LinkNYC Hotspots?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/29/2015
Colt to Jettison Ailing IT Business
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/30/2015
Eurobites: Activist Investor Takes Stake in AlcaLu
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 6/30/2015
What's in Your Office-in-a-Bag?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 6/26/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Casa Systems has been going from strength to strength over the last couple of years. In 2013, it became the first vendor to ship an integrated CCAP device -- the ...
Cedrik Neike, SVP of Global Service Provider, Service Delivery, at Cisco, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about solving service provider customer problems in a virtualized, DevOps world, including multivendor support and the future of network procurement.
Cats with Phones